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President Zelenskyy to EU's cities and regions: "Thank you for your support!"  

Presidents of Ukraine and the European Committee of the Regions say cooperation between cities and regions strengthen not only both sides, but Europe itself.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine has thanked cities and regions in the European Union for giving shelter to Ukrainians following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He also urged the EU's cities and regions to join the work of ensuring an "effective recovery of Ukraine", saying that "we will recover every ruin that russia brought with its war… to show that our strength – the strength of our Europe – is obvious".

President Zelenskyy's comments were made in a video message to the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, which co-founded the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine and serves as its secretariat. In his message, he also highlighted the importance of decentralisation reforms to Ukraine's unity in the face of Russia's assault and emphasised that "the principle of respect for regions, respect for communities is indispensable for everyone".


A full transcript can be found below and here.

In his message, President Zelenskyy said: "When the cities and communities of Europe, your cities and communities, give shelter to our people they help not only people, but support the idea of Europe – our common home, for all Europeans. And I thank you for that! When both the EU Committee of the Regions and your cities and communities directly cooperate with Ukraine, with our cities and communities, it means cooperation that strengthens not only both sides, but also our Europe itself. Thank you for this! When we implemented the decentralisation reform in our country, we focused on the best European practices of governing and subsidiarity of powers – between the centre and communities. Currently, the system of governance in Ukraine – even in wartime conditions – corresponds to the European system of democracy. There may be different national approaches to a specific system of government in a certain country, but the main principle of respect for regions, respect for communities is indispensable for everyone."

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, said in response: "The European Committee of the Regions welcomes the address by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the occasion of its plenary session. In his message, President Zelenskyy made clear how crucial the cooperation between European and Ukrainian cities is. The European Committee of the Regions is fully committed to support the cooperation and the progress in Ukraine for a strengthened local self-government. The war against Ukraine is still ongoing but the reconstruction of all destructed buildings and infrastructure has to start now. Local and regional authorities and mayors of the differently affected cities in Ukraine play an essential role in this endeavour. This is why the Committee of the Regions co-founded the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, to coordinate joint efforts directed towards helping the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine and to stress the importance of the local and regional self-government in this process. We will further prepare for the next international Ukraine recovery conference in London today, at a dedicated workshop with Ukrainian and international partners. President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people can count on our support until every house is rebuilt, until Ukraine is free again."

President Zelenskyy's video message comes a few hours before the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) hosts an international workshop – co-organised with the Ukrainian, Swiss and UK governments and the OECD – on the role of regions and cities in Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction. Recommendations adopted at the meeting will help inform the work of national governments, the EU and international partners at the second Ukraine Recovery Conference, to be held in London on 21-22 June.

Transcript of President Zelenskyy's message:

"Dear Mr. President Cordeiro, dear members of the Committee of the Regions! Dear Europeans! First of all, I would like to thank you for the fact that in this battle for the free future of Ukraine and of our whole Europe, we defend ourselves together. For many generations, Europeans have dreamed of our continent becoming united like today, when it comes to protection of our fundamental values. And now – Europe is united. And not only formally or institutionally, not only with declarations and hopes, but with real actions that save our people and our nations from russian revanchism, which threatens NOT only our country, but the entire European way of life. And, in fact, now we are also united by this way of life. Like never before. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Eastern border of Ukraine, we share the same principles at the core of our social life, in governing our countries. We have the common principles of interaction between the state and communities. Democracy and respect for the individual. Equality between people and communities. Respect for the others, and strength in the union of diversities.

"All of this is our Europe, all of this is us, and all of this is NOT respected by our common enemy. We must remember this. We are fighting now not only for the future of our country, not only for the future of the eastern flank of Europe, but for the future of the whole Europe, the way we know it today. And the way it should remain after us, ladies and gentlemen. When the cities and communities of Europe, your cities and communities, give shelter to our people they help not only people, but support the idea of Europe – our common home, for all Europeans. And I thank you for that! When both the EU Committee of the Regions and your cities and communities directly cooperate with Ukraine, with our cities and communities, it means cooperation that strengthens not only both sides, but also our Europe itself. Thank you for this!

"When we implemented the decentralisation reform in our country, we focused on the best European practices of governing and subsidiarity of powers – between the centre and communities. Currently, the system of governance in Ukraine – even in wartime conditions – corresponds to the European system of democracy. There may be different national approaches to a specific system of government in a certain country, but the main principle of respect for regions, respect for communities is indispensable for everyone. There are quite a lot of such examples – of our unity, of our common values, of our common rules of life. I am sure that all of them will soon give us an obvious result, which is the full-fledged accession of Ukraine to the European Union. And I thank you for supporting our country and our people on this path of integration!

"And I am also sure of one more thing: Ukraine will be such a part of Europe that there will remain NOT a single ruin. We will recover every ruin that russia brought with its war – we will rebuild everything, we will make everything to show that our strength – the strength of our Europe – is obvious. WE established a special institution in Ukraine – the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. This is a platform that we invented to provide more opportunities for development to our regions and communities, to make better interaction between the central government and local authorities. Obviously, Congress must also play a fundamental role in the reconstruction efforts. I invite you to cooperate at all levels with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Ukraine. Both at the level of the entire EU Committee of the Regions and directly: your regions with our regions, your cities and communities with our cities and communities. I invite you to join the work of the Offices of International Cooperation, which are being created with a view to effective recovery of Ukraine.

"And I invite you, actually, to visit our country – to visit that part of our Europe in which the fate of our Europe is being decided both with weapons and rebuilding. Both by soldiers and institutions. Both at the level of the central government and at the level of each community, which appreciates that we are free Europeans.

"Thank you for your support! Thank you, Mr. President Cordeiro, for the Committee's attention to Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine!"

Press contacts:

Andrew Gardner, press officer, +32 473 843 981


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